Waste, garbage, old, used, worn out, trash … just a few terms to describe the millions of piles of waste we send to the landfill each week. Waste that is filling up local landfills, being send overseas to be burned, harvested and even lived in. Our waste truly is a global problem. Depending on the waste there is various levels of biodegradability and toxicity. While this waste be out of our minds once hitting the curb, the truth is it is all too often send out to affect others on all differing socio-economic and environmental levels. Now that is one big stinky pile.
BUT what if we were to change the way were to think about the “waste” we produce? And better yet strive to live in a waste free manner? Or at least in a reduced waste manner? Well, this is not only possible, but is being done!
In fact the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA), a group of individuals promoting public education and practical application of the Zero Waste principals in an effort to reduce the global waste production. The ZWIA promote positive alternatives to landfill and incineration and to raise community awareness of the social and economic benefits to be gained when waste is regarded as a resource base upon which can be built both employment and business opportunity.
There are numerous local organizations working towards the same goal. For example the Zero Waste Alliance (ZWA), a nonprofit organization headquartered in Portland, Oregon is striving to teach just this message. Operating as a program of the International Sustainable Development Foundation, ZWA has over a twelve year history working with industry and communities to identify and overcome barriers to Zero Waste. ZWA is guided by the principles of open engagement, a whole systems approach, and a firm belief in power of markets to transform. ZWA’s work has included the formation of the Green Electronics Council, the Outdoor Industry Eco-Index, the Sustainable Oregon Schools Initiative, the International Society of Sustainability Professionals and the Chemical Assessment and Ranking System. Through this work ZWA has been a national leader in progressing Zero Waste movement and overcoming some of the most complex and challenging issues facing industry and communities.
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- Producer responsibility at the front end of the problem: reduce waste in industrial production and design.
- Community responsibility at the back end of the problem: reduce waste production through reduced or smarter consumption, discard use and disposal.
- Political responsibility to bring both community and industrial responsibility together in a harmonious whole.
Many of us do not fit into just one of these categories; rather we tend to reside in differing degrees in each category. Find out where you fit in, what to you produce and consume and – the BIG question – what can you do to reduce the waste?
“Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use. Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.” ~ Richard Anthony, founder of Zero Waste International Alliance
- “10 Fixes For the Planet“ by Anne Underwood, Newsweek, April 14, 2008
- “The Urban Quest for ‘Zero’ Waste“ by David Ferry, Fortune, September 12, 2011
- “Can we make garbage disappear“ by Ivan Amato, Time Magazine, November 8, 1999
- “So you think you’re recycling at work?” by Amanda Paulson, Christian Science Monitor, September 10, 2001